Wednesday, September 29, 2021
When you live your life, when people see your life, do they appreciate God more? Do they see God's greatness in the way you live?
Wednesday, September 29, 2021
What does that mean? It means this, that when you live your life, when people see your life, do they appreciate God more? Do they see God's greatness in the way you live? Does God get attention and glory from others who see your life? Is that what you want from your life? Do you want your life to glorify God? We all fall short. We're all very imperfect, but the ultimate tenor and aim of our life should be to glorify God, to call attention to his greatness, so that others see how great he is. I want to see God's greatness even more my life, but after that, I want others to see how great God is through my life. That's why Paul says, "To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen."
Jesus said when he comes back, he's going to come back in power, and he's going to come back in great glory. When he comes back, he's going to set up His kingdom on earth for 1000 years,which is called the millennium, and he will be glorified by everybody. That's why we want to spend the rest of our days on Earth glorifying God. We glorify God by the way we live, by the way we talk, by our practices, by the way we show love, by the way we distinguish ourselves from the average person, by the way we give generously, by the way we give of our gifts in the church, by the way we help the less fortunate, by the way we serve , and by the way we treat other people (which is different from the rest of the world). There are people that have come to me, and if you've been a Christian long enough and you're striving to glorify God, I'm sure you've had the same thing happen, where people say, "Man, what is it about you? Why are you so nice?" And I get a chance to just say, "It's God in me. I give glory to God, because he's the one who does it in me." That's what life's all about.
So, I have a question for you. Is your life all about trying to bring glory for God? Paul prayed, "To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen." That's what I want from my life, and I think that's probably what you want from your life. Let's glorify God in all that we do so that, in the words of Jesus, we may let our light so shine, that people may see our good works and glorify our Father in heaven (Matthew 5:16). Let's pray. Father, forgive us for those times when we haven't glorified you. Help us to bring glory to your name by the way we live. Help us to have others see it, so that they may glorify you, too. We know that one day you're going to come back in power and great glory, and you will rule and reign on the earth in glory for 1000 years. We want to help as many people as we can be a part of that. Thank you for this in Jesus' name, amen.
Friday, September 17, 2021
Today, I want to talk to you about something that every commercial will find aggravating, every advertiser will be upset with, and every company that's trying to sell you something will not like.
Friday, September 17, 2021
I get that from Philippians 4:10-12. Take what the Apostle Paul has to say to heart, because this man knew contentment. He says, "I rejoiced greatly in the Lord that at last you have renewed your concern for me. Indeed, you have been concerned, but you had no opportunity to show it. I am not saying this because I am in need, for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances. I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.
Let me summarize. Apparently, the Philippians hadn't expressed concern for Paul. Well, they at least lost touch for whatever reason. They reconnected and then they were able to express to Paul the concern that they always had. Paul was not saying to them, "I'm glad you're concerned about me because I have a need, and now I need to leverage you for some of my need to be met." Not that that would be wrong, but he's saying that that wasn't even the purpose. Rather he, he says that he has learned to be content, at ease inside, at peace inside with what he has.
Paul said, "I have learned the secret of contentment." What is the secret of contentment? It is that whatever you have before God is enough. You might say, "Oh, but God doesn't understand. I need this." God does understand. You don't need this. "Yeah, but if I had that I'd be happier." God says that will not make you happier. You and I must remember that whatever God gives us is right, and whatever we have, if we're living right and we're not squandering away through sinful living (That's a whole 'nother subject), but for striving to live for God, whatever we have is what God wants us to have. In that we should be content.
Father, help me, help all of us reading this life lifter to remember that our contentment is in you. Help us to learn the secret of contentment when we have, and when we don't have. When we're in need, and when we have plenty. Whatever it is, help us to learn contentment, that our contentment is found in seeing life through your eyes and remembering that Jesus Christ is enough. I pray that for me and for all my friends reading this life lifter in Jesus' name, amen.
Wednesday, Septemeber 1, 2021
Imagine if I was to ask you, "What is your relationship with God like? What do you know about God? How is God working in your life?" If I asked you those questions, your responses will tell me a lot about how much faith you have.
Wednesday, Septemeber 1, 2021
This week, we've been talking about faith. Yesterday, we asked a question, "What is the object of your faith?" Today, I want to ask you, "Do you know the object of your faith?" And so I want to talk to you about the struggles that people have with faith. What I have found in in my almost 20 years of being a pastor is that when people struggle with their faith in God, it is more times than not tied to a lack of knowledge of who God is and his ways. Read that again: struggles in faith more times than not are tied to a lack of knowledge of who God is and his ways.
Romans 10:17 tells us this, "Faith comes by hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ." The key to increasing your faith in God is to be in his word every day. By hearing the message, by reading it in our Bibles. The more you read the Bible, the more you will get to know God and his ways. If you are struggling to have more faith in God, then I want to encourage you to spend more time with him reading your Bible. But you may say, "Well, Frank, I already read the Bible." I want to encourage you, don't just read it, study it. Maybe you already study the Bible. Make sure that you're praying, speaking to God. You know, prayer doesn't have to be in some high and lofty English. It is just common, everyday language. It's having a conversation with God. Praying is also listening to God, spending time in quiet, just listening and letting God speak to you. Is it an audible voice? I've never heard it as an audible voice, but deep down inside in your heart, you sense the leading of God in your life. If you want to go even deeper in your faith, try fasting. Fasting is a great way to grow deeper in your faith and your connection and closeness to God. These are all spiritual disciplines to draw us closer to God to help us know Him and to know his ways better. The result will be an increase in our faith. When we know God more, we will trust him more, and we will trust his word in our lives in an increasing measure.
Let's pray. Father, thank you that you have given us the opportunity to know you through your word, the Bible. May we study it, may we apply it to our lives. As King David said, may we hide it in our hearts to know you more and more. Thank you that we can reach out to you in prayer. Thank you that we can sit in quiet and let you speak to us. Thank you that you've given us fasting to draw us closer and make us more and more dependent upon you, increasing our faith. Thank you, Father. For this we ask this in Jesus' name, amen.
Monday, August 30, 2021
Whether we consider ourselves religious or not, the truth is, we all live by faith to some degree. Even atheists, yes, even atheists live by faith.
Monday, August 30, 2021
I want to ask you a question. What is the object of your faith? Whether we consider ourselves religious or not, the truth is, we all live by faith to some degree. Even atheists, yes, even atheists live by faith. You don't believe me? Think about a chair. How many times do people sit in a chair, trusting that it's going to support their weight without even considering to check the structural soundness of the chair before they sit down on it? The simple task of sitting in a chair occurs millions and millions of times a day without people giving a second thought to the soundness of that chair. That takes faith. But what if the object of your faith proves to be unreliable? It probably wouldn't take very long for you to find a new chair if you sat in it and it broke, being unreliable. You would look for another chair right away to sit down and that would be able to support your weight.
In fact, when we lose faith in something, I want you to consider that the problem is not your ability to believe, but the object of your faith. One of the most widely trusted and reliable objects of faith by the world's population is our solar system. We set our watches to it, we plan our calendars around it. Each month, and each year is based on our solar system. If the Earth's orbit was to shift by just a few small degrees, the world would be in utter chaos and anarchy. We trust and rely on the solar system. In fact, it's incredible how much we trust and rely on the rotation of our planet around the sun. But as Christians, our ultimate faith object is not the S-U-N, it is the S-O-N, Jesus Christ. He is the one who created our solar system and the entire universe and the author of our faith.
Hebrews 13:8 tells us this, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, and today and forever." He never changes. He is immutable, and that's what makes him so trustworthy. Numbers 23:19 says this, "God is not human, that he should lie, he's not a human being, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and then not act? Does he promise and not fulfilled?" The point that Moses is trying to make is that people will let us down, they will be inconsistent, they will lie, they will not be true to their word, they will not follow through and produce what they said they would, but God will always be faithful. Even God's word is completely trustworthy and reliable. Isaiah 40:8 says this, "The grass withers and the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever." The point is that things come and go, they sprout up, they die off quickly. But the one thing that is steady, the one thing that is trustworthy, reliable, and lasts the test of time is the word of God, our Bibles.
So what is the object of your faith? Is it Jesus Christ and His Word? Is it Jesus, the most reliable, trustworthy, and never-changing object of faith? Or are you putting your faith and trust in something less? Let's pray. Father, thank you that your Word tells us that Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. He is the most reliable and trustworthy object of faith. And I and I use that term object loosely, Father. Jesus is way more than an object. He is worthy of all our praise and there is none like him. Father, we thank you for that, and we ask that we can learn to put our faith and trust in Jesus Christ more and more every day. We ask this in his name, amen.
Friday, August 20, 2021
The whole goal of becoming a Christian is not to say, "I'm done. I've got a relationship with Christ, I'm going to heaven!" No...
Friday, August 20, 2021
Here's what I want to say to you. When you become a Christian, it's the same thing as what Dr. Madhu and as my karate instructor, Kurt Sawyer, told me: when you become a Christian you're ready to learn. The whole goal of becoming a Christian is not to say, "I'm done. I've got a relationship with Christ, I'm going to heaven!" No, you want to love him more. That's what the Apostle Paul said - learn to love him more than anything. Look at what he says in Philippians 3:7-8, "Whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ."
In other words, all the things Paul had before he was a Christian, the prestige of being a Pharisee and all of that. Nothing compared to the greatness of knowing Christ. Knowing, present participle, not "having known" Christ. Knowing. It's a process. He said he would lose everything if that's what it took to know Jesus Christ. And guess what? Jesus Christ demanded the loss of so many things for the Apostle Paul. The Apostle Paul experienced as much loss, or more, than any other human being ever has for the sake of Christ. And Paul said he would gladly suffer loss if it meant knowing Christ more deeply. He even says everything else is like rubbish, and honestly, the word for rubbish in Greek, which I've shared on Sundays here a few times, is the Greek word scubula. Excuse my crassness, but it is basically the word for for feces, dung, crap, whatever you want to say. And Paul says, all of that stuff that I had doesn't matter as much as knowing Christ. Do you want to know Jesus Christ at that same level? Do you want to know Christ more? You'd like to become a Christian? Great, now you're ready to learn, like my black belt and karate instructor, Kurt, said. Like the dean of electrical engineering, Dr. Madhu, said. Like Paul, now you're ready to learn more about Jesus Christ. You'll learn more about how to get closer to him. I want to know Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is infinite. That means that you'll never know everything about him. So I want to know more and more every day. Do you? How do you do that? Read the Bible every day. Pray every day, not only for yourself, but for others. Use your gifts to impact the world and share the good news in the church and in the world. Do these things and you'll get closer to Christ and you'll know him more.
Father, help us to know you more every day. Just like we know our spouses if we're married, just like we know our kids if we have kids. Every day we know them more, and we want to know you more, and nothing else. Whatever it costs, it's not worth anything compared to knowing you. Thank you for this. Help us to know you more in Jesus' name, amen.
Wednesday, August 18, 2021
This is going to seem like a little bit of a cliche for those of you who are church attenders or regulars at church, but regardless, it'll be a reminder to you. And for those of you who are somewhat new, I want to say this...
Wednesday, August 18, 2021
This is going to seem like a little bit of a cliche for those of you who are church attenders or regulars at church, but regardless, it'll be a reminder to you. And for those of you who are somewhat new, I want to say this: the only place of reliable joy is in the Lord. The only place you'll find joy in a consistent, reliable, never-ending way is to find joy in the Lord. I get that because in Philippians 3:1 the apostle Paul says, by way of reminder, which tells us we all need this reminder, "Finally, my brothers rejoice in the Lord. It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again, and it is a safeguard for you."
If we break that down, he says, "Rejoice in the Lord. It is no trouble for me to write the same things to you again," which means that he said this again and again. If he keeps repeating this, it means that chances are, like the Philippians, we need that constant reminder. We have to find our joy in the Lord. Then, he says a second thing: "...and it is a safeguard for you." In other words, it is so you don't get taken in. If you read later in Philippians, it talks about being taken in by false teaching or by other things that glitter. Not all that glitters is gold. Not everything that you think is going to provide joy is going to provide joy. In fact, I'm here to tell you that things that might provide joy will only bring conditional joy or temporary joy. The greatest, undeniable, never-let-you-down joy is joy in the Lord.
Are you finding your joy in the Lord? I find a lot of joy in my wife - I married up so high I got a nosebleed. I love my children, I love my grandson, I love my staff, I love the elders, I love the trustees, I love the people of Lakeshore, I love my friends, I love my golfing buddies, I love my neighbors. I love so many people, but they cannot bring me unconditional, never-changing joy like Jesus Christ can. If I expect that of my wife, of my children, or my grandson, I'm going to be disappointed. My ultimate joy is in Jesus Christ. You say, "Vince, how do you find your joy in Jesus Christ?" Ultimately, it's when you look to him for everything. "God, what do I do? God, what do I say? God, How can I know you love me? God, should I make this purchase? God, should I go this way or that way? God help me." God wants us to have a dynamic relationship with Him. And when you have a dynamic relationship with him and you are taking your cues from him, you will find joy. The best way to have joy in the Lord is to facilitate a continual relationship with him. If I like golf, but I never go to the golf course, I really don't like golf. If I say I find joy in being with John, and I never hang out with John, that's really not my source of joy. The way you're going to know that Jesus is the joy of your life is when you want to be with him. People say, "Well, I'm a Christian and I love Jesus, but I don't go to church." Well, you don't love him as much as you think because Jesus said, "I'll build my church," and Jesus said through the Apostle Paul, "Don't forsake going to church." So, it's the same thing. Here's what I want to say: find your joy in Jesus Christ. When you make a decision, find your approval from him, even if not everybody agrees. When you find a need in your life that is so desperate, turn to Jesus Christ. He can give you joy, and you can have joy in the middle of a trial when he is your source.